The best books about graffiti that will make you want to pick up a spray paint can

Who am I?

I'm sure you’ve heard of method acting. A technique by which an actor embodies the character they're portraying 24/7. I'm a method writer. I embody the world of the novels that I write. However, when the time came to write a novel inspired by graffiti, I faced a particular frustration. Graffiti is illegal. I felt a strong desire to grab a spray paint can to decorate public spaces. And yet the fear of a jail cell prevented me from acting on the impulse. I had to find a different outlet for that desire. I poured over every book and movie on the subject. I believe I became a bit of an expert.


I wrote...

Graffiti Hack

By Elen Ghulam,

Book cover of Graffiti Hack

What is my book about?

Nelly Nasah grew up in a culture obsessed with decoration. So when Nelly arrives in Washington, D.C. she has a mission—to make the Internet beautiful. She lands a job as a graphic designer in Georgetown, and gets to work trying to inspire her colleagues. Despite all her efforts, Nelly’s only friend in this new country is a rickety old elevator, who communicates with her through the language of his gentle sways and flickering lights.

After a failed presentation, Nelly turns to the dark world of hacking. When lavish designs begin to appear on unsuspecting high-profile websites, the Internet starts to pay attention. Nelly’s latest “hits” go viral as the multitudes read political and social messages into her digital decorations. Is Nelly headed for deep trouble?

The books I picked & why

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The Blue Light Project: A Novel

By Timothy Taylor,

Book cover of The Blue Light Project: A Novel

Why this book?

A bombastic start that leads to a gentle beautiful ending. Nothing works how you expect it to in this novel. The graffiti is woven through the story like broad brush strokes of a Van Gogh painting. Abrupt and yet conveying of most delicate feelings. Open the first page, leave all your expectations to the side and let yourself be taken on the ride. The less I tell you the better.


Wall and Piece

By Banksy,

Book cover of Wall and Piece

Why this book?

There is no escaping that name when broaching the subject Graffiti. Banksy is the king. In Wall And Piece you get a broad study of his creations. You can leaf through and enjoy the pictures, but I highly recommend that you invest the time to read the witty and through-provoking text accompanying them. I am not saying that a comparison to Tolstoy immediately came to mind. All I am saying is that I continued to think about the book days and weeks after reading it.


Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palestine

By William Parry,

Book cover of Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palestine

Why this book?

My interest in graffiti started during a visit to Ramallah, Palestine. Since there is no functioning government that can remove graffiti, the city walls are covered in layers upon layers of graffiti. Anything reachable by human hand is decorated in paint. From the profound to the vulgar. Political to benign. It suddenly occurred to me that in the city of Ramallah no one needs to wonder: “What are people thinking? What is on their mind?” The writing is on the wall. Simply open your eyes and absorb the order within the chaos. Against the Wall reminds me of that moment of inspiration that later informed my novel.


The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti

By Rafael Schacter,

Book cover of The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti

Why this book?

The World Atlas of Street Art is a treasure trove of Graffiti from all four corners of the earth. From hurried random scribbles on a wall to intricate creations worthy of Da Vinci, you can get lost inside this book only to emerge with a new appreciation of this puzzling art form. Some might insist on calling graffiti a form of vandalism. I am certain that none of them had the privilege of perusing this beautiful book.


Anonymouse

By Vikki VanSickle, Anna Pirolli (illustrator),

Book cover of Anonymouse

Why this book?

Anonymouse is a charming illustrated picture book for children that grownups will appreciate. It tells the story of a mysterious graffiti artist that creates art specifically for animals. What I love most about it, is that it illustrates the transformative power of art. As the different animals are surprised and delighted with the graffiti, their lives, how they see themselves and relate to each other are enhanced in surprising ways.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in graffiti, cities, and the Middle Ages?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about graffiti, cities, and the Middle Ages.

Graffiti Explore 7 books about graffiti
Cities Explore 24 books about cities
The Middle Ages Explore 245 books about the Middle Ages

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Graffiti and the Literary Landscape in Roman Pompeii, The Ancient City, and Metropolis if you like this list.